Hello Citizens, I come bearing Community news. One of our lovely co-citizens, Nighthawk Zale, is working on a little project that I’m quite excited about, and I think you will be too. The project is Traverse the ‘Verse, a card-fueled game that will keep you entertained with a play style similar to that of Star Citizen ie to win, do it your own way.
Traverse the Verse – what’s it about?
I need to point out right from the get go that this is a non-official project in development by Nighthawk. It is not backed by CIG in anyway, although as of a couple of days ago from writing he has reached out to them via concierge to ask for various legal details surrounding it; making sure that he could spread it to citizens and we can play the game.
This project is being done in phases; currently Traverse the ‘Verse is in phase 1, the first important rules are being laid down and a whole host of cards and details for single seat ships and small multicrews are being created. Phases 2 and 3 will involve expanding the rules of the game to include much larger ships such as the Orion and the Idris. Needless to say the rules are constantly growing and this blog post gleans what is an interesting and involved game.
The game itself involves players using cards to control ship movement across a table – any table top of at least 4 x 4 feet, or 6 x 4 feet for larger games – which represents an area of space within the Star Citizen Universe. The goal of players is to proceed outward from their starting point, a home-port, in search of resources and data, which count towards your final score, and also aid in the construction/purchase of new ships from your base. How you interact with other players is completely your choice. Whether you decide to team up, then stab people in the back; shy from conflict or be a rampaging warlord or depends on how you want
to play. Nighthawk suggested on a livestream that tactics and planning over brute force will be the best way to win. This makes sense as you will have to give careful thought towards harvesting resources, investing your points and importantly not losing ships in fool-hardy plays early on. The game is basically asking you to make each move with your ‘Endgame’ in mind, if you have no resources, you can’t build ships to defend…or conquer. Of course, just because tactics is key, doesn’t mean you can’t try and brute force things, it’s your play.
To win one must be the person with the most victory points, which is nice and straightforward. The hard part is getting them. Various things count towards victory points; such as the total resources you possess by the end, the number of ships you own, have captured or destroyed; as well as the discovery of interesting anomalies in space. These anomalies can be activated via chance cards which you can land on every now and again. These anomalies allow you to harvest data coins, which are valuable in applying custom attributes to ships. By the same token a chance card could also ruin your day, so don’t think it’s all data-anomalies and unicorn rainbows.
Asteroids can be placed around the map in
different areas after each game, meaning the tabletop environment is dynamic and changing. The smallest are nothing but obstacles forcing players to choose alternative routes, the largest can be used to collect resources and data coins. These are important areas to control, and will probably dictate a lot of the tactics of the game; co-operate over resources, or edge somebody out – it’s your call.
Each ship has a unique set of values and characteristics which represent how it will behave in-play. The quick reference rules for each ship are found on the SPEC card (see the second Gladius image). And, logically, each ship is better suited for certain tasks; for instance an Orion mining ship will always be a better harvester of resources. But you can add parts and crew to your ships as the game progresses and you build up those much discussed resource and data coins. How these components and crews will be represented is unclear, whether it is another set of cards that are lain on the table for all to see, or chips that you place on the ship card itself. I’m sure Nighthawk will clear that up, but the thing to take away is that you will have the choice on how to spend your points, and whether that choice will be beneficial in the final rounds of the game; which Nighthawk hopes will be long and intense.
Ship movement is represented by three decks of cards; the Alpha, Bravo and Charlie decks. You select seven cards from each deck which you can apply to one of your ship movement cards (see the first Gladius image) to move it about. Nighthawk hopes for these to be small 3D printed models at some point. Alpha represents full thrust, Bravo half thrust and Charlie combat manoeuvres (think of small combat strafes). The artwork for Bravo and Charlie are visible on the right and below on the left. I have to point out that like many things these are in-development and at the moment only show the flight paths. Two of these can be placed in front of a ship, in any combination, to form a movement which will eventually move your ship across the play space. It seems that it is very much up to the player which path they take, as there are no pre-described paths which they must stick to. This will help represent that sense of freedom which Traverse the ‘Verse is trying to capture from the PC Game; but also could lead to issues and arguments about the nudging of cards and paths. But such arguments occur in games like Monopoly too, so whether that will be a problem isn’t clear, it may just be inherent to games such as.
But how does it end Acheron? We know there are points, but when do we count them? That isn’t 100% clear at the moment of writing. This game is still in development by Nighthawk, and he has a few ideas. One of them was that if all the resources were depleted players would then be forced to count their points and announce a victor. I think I see what Nighthawk is doing; to avoid the Endgame resorting to a thoughtless bloodbath, via complete destruction of your enemy, he wants to stop the game when all the resource collection has come to and end; the tactically challenging part of the game. Then all the points, from resources to ships, are counted. It’s a good idea, which forces players to constantly think and micromanage their points to remain strong in ships, but also in the bank. A personal idea is to inject a domination element to the game, in which zones of areas could be controlled based on majorities of ships in that space…a little like Risk I suppose. Except zone control carries no points, it only forces the game to end, adding a little bit more thought to your moves. End the game too soon and you may lose. Just a thought.
There is something quite Dungeons and Dragons about this game, which I feel is an appealing quality because it is a concept that a lot of people are familiar with. This comes over a lot in the player-sculpted gameplay, and the fact that previous winners take the role of setting up the environment for the next game, a little similar to a Dungeon Master, but again it is risky to try and draw too many comparisons between the two. I don’t want to cause other readers to shy away from the idea
because they hate D&D, for example, or alternatively have D&D fans mercilessly pick apart the analogy. This is why I want to put Traverse the ‘Verse within a world of it’s own; it is the type of game that I feel would have naturally come from a community like this at some point. Something dynamic, and player lead with no dictated method of reaching the Endgame, or collecting the victory points; it’s a design that comes from a mind, like many, who is invested in the ultimate idea laid down by CIG for the PC Game. Granted this is all at an early stage and much like Star Citizen subject to change and a little bit of a wait; but I’ll post updates if anything significant occurs with this project.
Going back to the message Nighthawk sent to CIG, I really do hope, for various reasons, they give an all clear; firstly because the idea of the game is wonderful and I want to see it in our hands in some form – obviously. Secondly I think it would help strengthen the image the very CIG is building up as a company “connected with the community”. By allowing such player driven efforts like this to go ahead it shows a willingness to help the creativity of it’s players grow, as well as accepting some great marketing along the way. Come on, it’s obvious and I’ll voice it as obvious ;). In the end, it would be a shame if any legal fears and intricacies stopped Nighthawk pursuing this idea, and I’m happily hopeful that they won’t.
This is Acheron’s Transmission, timing out…
“…I’m afraid, dear friends, that I must draw this game to a close. There is little progress left to make, save counting our points. However, more importantly, we are under attack…”